Paradise Sonnet

Our paradise is something less instead

Our Paradise

Wafting comes the mower’s comforting hum,
Assuring all is just as it should be.
Our gates and fences all are rightly plumb,
We celebrate our capability.

New curbs and gutters sluice away wild rain,
Alarms and locks protect our doors from breach,
Our lives arranged to minimize our pain,
Designed to keep us safely out of reach.

But wreaking roots upheave the sidewalk path,
And worms devour our precious woolen thread,
The black and red mold creep into our bath,
Insomnia disturbs our peace in bed.
Despite our engineering and our math,
Our paradise is something less instead.

(2016)


Notes:   Summer-ish weather has come to the Pacific Northwest.  It seems fitting to haul out this old sonnet.

Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate material comforts and modern conveniences.  Probably even more than most of my friends and colleagues.

I was born in the middle of the last century, and started out life on a farm that was primitive, even for that time.

How primitive?  Well, we milked our own cow, raised our own chickens for eggs, butchered our own hogs, and raised our own vegetables in the garden.

For special occasions and Sunday dinners, Mother would grab one of the slower chickens, chop off its head, and fry it up.

When we sold our farm to the Amish, they took one look at the house, and commenced on an immediate upgrading and remodeling project.

As for me, I was delighted in my new home in a Missouri farm town of 12 thousand souls.  For the first time in my life I had my own room, central heat, and indoor plumbing.

I could finally take a bath in something that wasn’t a galvanized wash tub in the middle of the kitchen floor.  In freshly drawn water that hadn’t been previously used by other members of the family.

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  I didn’t even notice that we didn’t have air conditioning, even when the Missouri summer visited its oppressive humidity and triple-digit heat upon us.

So, I am thankful for many things.  I am certainly grateful for indoor plumbing and running water. I am so  thankful I can enjoy sardines from Norway and wine from France.

I am grateful for antibiotics, and the miracles of modern medicine.  I missed the polio epidemic, but just barely.  Had I been just a couple of years older, I could have suffered withered limbs or worse, like the older brothers and sisters of some of my friends who were not so fortunate.

All of my ancestors as far back as I can research were dirt farmers.  I am grateful for a professional job in a meaningful enterprise.  (Inside work.  No heavy lifting.)

Many years ago, when I moved out to Seattle, we settled in the suburbs because — even then — the city was too expensive.  We made a serendipitous choice, because our little suburb has become a highly desirable place for Microsoft employees coming here to live from all over the world.

Heck, in one of those specious magazine “Top 15” lists, our little suburb was once ranked the “Most Friendly Town in America.”

Crime is low.  Violent crime is virtually non-existent.  The weather is temperate.  People take care of their property.  Unemployment is not really an issue. People of seemingly every tribe and tongue live side-by-side here in peace.  You can walk or jog without fear.

Pinch me because sometimes I start to fool myself into thinking we live in paradise.

Yet, it is good to remember that even heaven on earth is not really heaven.

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Eclipse Haiku

Day of the total eclipse

Fog, please go away.
(At least we won’t be tempted
to burn out our eyes.)


NOTES: It’ll be a close call whether or not we’ll be able to see the eclipse today on the Kitsap Peninsula.  The fog is expected to burn off and be gone just before — or after — the sun goes dark.

 

Love poem

I loved you first in lilac time

Flower Time

I saw you first in jonquil time,
When you were bathed in grace.
You sat aglow with fire sublime,
And golden shone your face.

I loved you first in lilac time.
A bloom I plucked for you.
I wrote you verse with song and rhyme.
I hoped you loved me too.

I kissed you first in tulip time,
It must have been a sign.
The buds and we were in our prime
When your two lips met mine.

I married you in daisy time
On summer’s longest day.
We traded rings and heard bells chime.
We pledged always to stay.

Too soon we’ve come to aster time.
The days are shorter now.
Would stealing some be such a crime?
We’ll make it right somehow.

Should we endure ’til wintertime,
The time when flowers sleep,
Dreams we’ll share of a gentler clime
Where we no more shall weep.


NOTES:  Today is Valentine’s Day, and it’s unseasonably warm here in the Pacific Northwest.  It won’t be long before the jonquils and crocuses start poking their heads up through the mulch.

And it won’t be much longer than that before my favorite  — the lilacs — grace us with their fragrance and beauty.

It’s a good day for a modest little love poem.

December haiku

Late autumn gloom
Crow all you want, cock.
You can’t make the sun pierce through
this late autumn gloom.


Notes:  I often stay at a bed & breakfast high on a hill on the Kitsap Peninsula.  To the east are the Cascades.  To the west are the Olympics.  When you can see them, it’s spectacular.

This time of year, however, they are usually hidden by the fog and clouds.

The hosts keep chickens to produce eggs for the breakfast part of the business.  This is not a sure thing, however.  The coyotes are thick in the woods.  We’ve had a bumper crop of rabbits this year, so the coyotes seem to be leaving the chickens alone.

Last year, however, the farmer lost his entire brood to a bald eagle.  Our proud national bird is so plentiful out here in the Pacific Northwest that they’ve become a bit of a pest.  For a couple of days after the massacre, I saw the eagle perched on a tall tree looming over the henhouse, hoping the farmer would make a quick replacement.

He repopulated the henhouse with baby chicks, and redesigned the pen to be eagle-proof.  So far this year, we’ve had a steady supply of eggs.

Cat haiku

Cat crouching in lush autumn grass
The grey cat crouches
in the lush October grass,
wary and alert.


Notes:

I’ve been a bit busy lately so this one is getting posted a few days after the photo was taken and the poem written.  But here in the Pacific Northwest, the grass stays green all winter, so that hasn’t changed much.  The grass is even greener now than in the peak of summer, when things often get a bit dry.

Funny thing, I can go for weeks without seeing a cat on my evening walks, but one day in October, it seemed like every cat in town was outside, either lurking in the foliage or dozing in the fast-departing patches of late afternoon sun.

They seemed to sense, like I, that the autumn rains would be coming soon.  We all were taking advantage of the last dry days of Indian Summer.

 

 

“When the dizzy petal peak is past …”

Spring blossoms
 Spring comes early to the Pacific Northwest.

Spring does indeed come early here in western Washington.  Two weeks ago, we were enjoying summer-like weather in early March. Which is unusual, even for here.

The ornamental flowering trees were bursting with blooms, the sun was warm, and I walked for miles in shirtsleeves.  Life was good.

Two weeks and several rainstorms later, and the blossoms are much worse for wear.  In some places the fallen petals cover the sidewalks like snow.  The weather is back to normal — cool and wet, and occasionally windy.

As I walked tonight, I saw the fallen flower petals and was reminded of an old poem, written more than 30 years ago.

PASSION LIKE A FLOWER

Passion like a flower must expire.
Nothing can be rigged to spare desire
From life’s rigors — magic nor petitions.
Petals fall to various conditions.

When the dizzy petal-peak is past,
Some folks act as if the bloom could last,
Pick some wilting lilacs for their table,
Haul them homeward just to show they’re able,

Plunk them in a fruit jar lately washed
Clean of last fall’s bounty, cooked and squashed —
Like they thought the glass itself had power
To delay the spoiling of the flower.

It may work a day, two days, or so,
Then the smell and color start to go.
Nothing glassy can preserve desire;
Passion like a flower must expire.